Born in Northern Ireland in 1947, Sam Neill moved to New Zealand with his family when he was still a child, and he's called that island home ever since - with excursions to appear in some of the biggest movies and TV shows around, of course. He came to international fame as Dr. Alan Grant in Jurassic Park, but he never really embraced the lifestyle of the typical Hollywood celebrity, choosing instead to live on a farm in New Zealand where he makes wine and turns his animals into social media stars.
While Sam Neill's wine (he specializes in pinot noir) may never be as famous as his appearances in the likes of Peaky Blinders, In the Mouth of Madness, Event Horizon, Possession, The Omen III, The Piano, or even a blink-and-you'll-miss-it cameo in Thor: Ragnarok, his simultaneously eccentric and down-to-earth persona may just make him the most interesting man in Hollywood...
- Photo: Universal Pictures
When it was released in 1993, the original Jurassic Park quickly became the highest-grossing film in the world, in the process turning Sam Neill into a mainstream star. However, he was already an established actor, having appeared in cult classics like Omen III: The Final Conflict and Possession and even playing a key supporting role in The Hunt for Red October. Neill's casting as Alan Grant in Jurassic Park made him a household name and a movie star, even if he never really took to the position. Instead of chasing summer tentpoles, he chose to continue playing oddball roles in films like In the Mouth of Madness and Taika Waititi's Hunt for the Wilderpeople while spending time with his farm animals and making wine.
Neill did return for one Jurassic Park sequel - 2001's Jurassic Park III - and has been confirmed for the forthcoming follow-up to Jurassic World that is currently slated for a 2021 release.
- Photo: Gaumont
In a darkened room, on a tangle of sheets, a woman (Isabelle Adjani) writhes in the carnal grip of a tentacled monster. It's just one of the many indelible images in Andrzej Żuławski's cult horror film, Possession, which film scholar Bartłomiej Paszylk called "one of the most enigmatic and uncompromising horror movies in the history of cinema" in his book, The Pleasure and Pain of Cult Horror Films.
Filmed in West Berlin, this extremely weird and gooey 1981 flick stars Neill as a spy whose marriage is crumbling, possibly because his wife is having an affair with the aforementioned tentacle monster. Both Adjani and Neill "play for the nosebleed seats," according to Budd Wilkins, writing at Slant Magazine, even while their characters are put through the "emotional wringer, conveying an astonishing range of emotional responses - and lack thereof."
Neill is no stranger to weirdo horror flicks; that same year, he played the adult Damien in Omen III: The Final Conflict.
'Event Horizon' Became A 1990s Cult FavoritePhoto: Paramount Pictures
When it was first released back in 1997, Event Horizon was an epic box office failure, netting less than half its reported $60 million production budget. Maybe it was just released a little too early. After all, Neill's co-star in the film, Laurence Fishburne, was about to play Morpheus in The Matrix in just a couple years' time. Whatever the case may be, the ill-fated flick performed well on home video and has since gone on to achieve status as a cult classic.
Neill plays Dr. Weir, the designer of the eponymous Event Horizon, a massive, black-hole-creating spaceship that Ryan Lambie at Den of Geek describes as "pure Gothic." Neill embraces the role, delivering unforgettable lines like, "Where we're going, we won't need eyes to see."
He Owns And Operates A Winery That Specializes In Pinot Noir
As it says on the website, Two Paddocks is a "very very small company, utterly obsessed with Pinot Noir. And Riesling." Why does Neill own and operate not one or two but four organic vineyards in New Zealand? Well, it isn't because of the money. "It's a ridiculously time- and money-consuming business," he told The West. "I would not do it if it was not so satisfying and fun, and it gets me p*ssed once in a while."
The winery's website puts it even more bluntly, stating that the company exists because Neill is "slightly mad." The winery also grows saffron and lavender and has orchards and "various decorative animals," often named after fellow Hollywood celebrities, whom Neill has successfully turned into social media stars. "We're farmers," the website concludes simply.